Hey, so first of all, we should establish what is veganism. In a very broad sense, it's a choice not to use animal products at all (food, clothing, cosmetics etc), as much as possible. Meaning sometimes it's inevitable because for example medicine might be tested on animals.
For our family, this meant that we mostly ate vegan food. Especially me and Sarah. Peter sometimes ate non-vegan items. Me personally, also chose to try to use vegan and cruelty-free products.
So one of the main things people asked besides asking "Wait, but what are you eating then?", was the WHY?. Why would you do that? For me at that point of life, i had many reasons. I had seen documentaries about how animals are killed for meat. I won't go into details, but it's a hard thing to digest. Or the fact that most people these days don't even think about where their meat is coming from. How the animals are raised and treated, cared for or not. We just consume and eat whatever. But at that point, my heart was soft, i was weeping at these videos and documentaries. Not to mention how the beauty industry operates and tests on animals. Well, i was sold. I needed to stop this.
Another reason was that with all that, there's also documentaries that claim things (i say claim because i am not a doctor, scientist or anything else), that dairy is bad for you, meat and eggs are bad for you and so on. But that could be said about anything. Even this screen you are using. Or your phone or whatever else. Everything has so many ways to be harmful. Anyway, i made a decision for me and Sarah to be a vegan, to see if this changes anything in my health. I have lots of health problems, and they weren't solvable. (that's another story of how i have seen too many uncaring doctors in Estonia).
So we started our journey on veganism. I had tried to be vegan before when we were still living in Australia. I lasted for 100 days. I got pregnant and cravings took over and stopped then. And now, here i was again, trying this thing again. I lasted a year this time. But more on that later.
I wanna share with you the good, the bad, the ugly things about this. Let's start with the good stuff.
One of the biggest things for me was worrying about Sarah's nutrition as a mum. I was a breastfeeding mum, so i needed to make sure, what i was feeding her, had all the nutrients and such. But also, when she was 6 months old, we started with solids. So i needed to know about nutrition. A lot of research went into this, where do you get what vitamins and minerals. What you need for protein and so on. Because one of the biggest questions with veganism often is "Where do you get your protein if you don't eat meat?". So learning all about that, but also different options besides just beans. Or finding egg replacements and such. Learning so many different things with this. Trying new recipes, surprising friends and family with foods that are vegan. That was the fun part.
But also, the choices we have nowadays in stores. Vegan cheese, sausages, burgers, milk, yoghurt and so much more. And also products that have been accidentally vegan, like some biscuits or different items. And then products you didn't think are vegan, but it's obvious, like potatoes and other veggies and fruits. Lots of food to eat.
So that's another thing. People asked me what we ate. Where do we get protein, do you not eat even eggs and cheese, and many other questions.
In order to explain all that, you should have basic knowledge of food. Protein comes from meat, eggs, dairy, but also beans, lentils, peas, soy, tofu and so many other sources. You just have to find what works for you. We didn't like beans so much, so we made them into bean burgers. Using flax egg as a binding agent. Often adding grated vegetables in there too for extra nutrition. And i used almond milk on my coffee. Coconut yoghurt on my breakfast. There are so many options out there.
There are so many vegans out there, sharing their stories. Be it blogs, youtube channels or even Estonian vegan magazine, you can be inspired everywhere to find foods to eat. But it's also easy to get bored or annoyed at needing to cook so much. Which is why we liked that there's even vegan frozen pizzas, vegan sausages and other half-ready meals available for busy new parents.
In no way do i claim that we ate healthy all the time. But we tried. And i guess i was expecting this to be some cure-all-magic, which of course it wasn't. So in that sense, i was expecting more from this than it actually could give me.
This should be obvious to people, but nope. People felt they had the right to be sharing their very strong opinions. Both vegans and non-vegans. If you make a radical choice in life, this is what you have to deal with. Be it your eating habits, your faith, how you raise your child, being radically different from the majority, you will have resistance and opposition.
Doctors were the worst i think. They were not understanding here at all. Maybe it's different with different countries, but i must've found the hard to handle doctors. They kept pressuring us to make Sarah try dairy and eggs and such. Especially before certain vaccination, which had egg in it. They were very strongly saying, she should certainly have egg before we do this, to make sure she doesn't get allergic reactions. (vaccinations is another stong opinion place where people argue. We will not debate on this and we choose to vaccinate our child and possible future child(ren) ) So we resisted. Because i know she didn't NEED this. It's not like she's going to die if she didn't get that. I am glad i did my research into nutrition, because i literally felt like i was interregated at the doctors office. "Where does she get her vitamine B12, what about iron...." and so many questions regarding nutrition. Made me wonder if she (the dr) would ask the same from non-vegan parents? More than likely not. Sadly. I feel that is mistreating us but i just had to put up with it. Changing a doctor here is very hard.
There were others too, who kept mocking us almost every time we met. Sadly. So many people think their way is best. They don't see that people can eat whatever they want. Now as i am eating everything again, including meat/dairy/eggs/fish etc, i wouldn't for a second think to go mock a meat-eater for their eating habits. But seeminly the opposite seems acceptable and norm. Sadly. It's not okay to treat people bad because of their choices, be it faith, vaccinations, or their food intake. No no no! But some people just don't understand that.
Well sadly the biggest ugly surprise besides all the above was other vegans. I was part of facebook groups and especially Estonian vegans were quite hostile. Same way they are quite opinionated and vocal about everything. Instead of praise, they find fault. Examples: I found products that i thought were accidentally vegan, according to ingredients. Instead of saying good things for trying to find new things to share with others, they found fault in my finding. That this might not be vegan because of this. Or other times argued about palm oil (another very controversial topic to argue about). So yeah, very disappointed in the vegan community. I mean i understand their point of view for wanting to find products that are good. I get that. I understand the palm oil thing and how some people decide to avoid it. But you could be nice to people. It would drive people away or put them off from either sharing or worse, being vegan. But guess they don't think about that. I mean if your mission is to save animals, to help people be(come) vegan, shouldn't you treat others nicer too, be kind and helpful, instead of critcising? Just a thought.
It wasn't hard for me and us to be vegan. At least not food wise. It was hard to be vegan because of people's judgement, but also something i haven't mentioned. Our budget. Because we like a lot of convenience foods, like vegan milk and other products like that, it was expensive. You could get 1 liter of milk here for say 50-60 cents. Same amount of vegan milk was about 2 euros. Which is huge. It wasn't hard finding vegan places to go eating out. We have even heard that Tallinn is vegan capital of the world, because of so many vegan food places. The reason i stopped being vegan was again cravings, but also because Peter really didn't like it much. It's not blaming him or anything like that, but more so that i didn't see that veganism (eating vegan food) would've changed my health at all. It made my life harder and more expensive here. And we couldn't have that. We are now back to eating meat and dairy and such and can afford more variety of things, which is helpful in cooking. And Sarah was vegan for her first year of life. With breastmilk but also with solids.
I recommend that everyone, at least once in their life try to be a vegan. Even if it's a week, or a month. Just to get perspective. Just to understand people more and judge them less. I know it was hard, but it's possible to be vegan if you want. There are of course people who are helpful out there too. There's a lot of inspirational people on youtube. But there's also lots of judgement, criticism and pricing problems. Not to mention health system and their knowledge of vegan foods/nutrition. So for now, we are back to carnivores as they call us in vegan world. I still have some vegan products in my bathroom, and i like that. But i also like meat and cheese and yoghurt.
So whatever you like, eat that. Make sure you cover your nutritional bases with all the vitamins and minerals, and you're good to go. And also, if you just want to eat potatoes for a year, that's also fine (apparently some people have done that). I learn myself that i am judgy too. No hiding that. I judge people who judge me lol :D But hey, i am human too. I tried something, it didn't work out. And we are moving on.
Alright, hope this was a good read for you. Thanks for reading and have a great week!